Watching your baby laugh is one of the most heartwarming experiences of parenthood. Discover the age-by-age guide on how to make your baby laugh and create precious memories together.
Few noises and sights are more exciting, lovely, and delightful than a baby laughing. Moreover, your child’s ability to laugh is essential to his or her development. According to Louis Franzini, Ph.D., author of Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor, having a sense of humor plays a vital part in developing self-esteem, learning to solve problems, and polishing social skills.
Dr. Franzini states that it is one of the most attractive personality attributes. Without question, parents can assist in fostering it. Fortunately, it’s a skill you’ll like developing. Here is how to make a growing baby chuckle.
Typically, infants laugh for the first time between 3 and 4 months of age. However, since children of this age do not comprehend comedy, they chuckle in response to physical stimulation (such as bouncing on your knee) or sensory stimuli. They may also imitate the laughter of others.
Play a stupid game (such as pat-a-cake) and giggle uncontrollably.
Why it makes your baby laugh: Your infant is mimicking your actions. Special brain cells known as mirror neurons hardwire your newborn to replicate your actions, causing them to reciprocate your smile unconsciously and, after a few weeks, imitate your fits of laughter. Gina Mireault, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Johnson State University in Vermont, compares it to a comedy club. “You laugh because others are laughing.”
However, there is a second reason why this game never gets old: You are not always as silly. According to Doris Bergen, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of educational psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, “much of children’s humor is based on their recognition that something is out of the norm or unexpected, what we call incongruous.”
Six-month-old infants can produce hysterical belly laughs, and they will chuckle at new situations. Just be sure to laugh and smile along with them!
How to proceed: Pretend to be a monkey.
Why it makes your infant laugh: Although you may appear ridiculous, you are enjoying yourself. Clowning around, whether by producing slapstick body motions or hilarious facial expressions, is exactly up your 6-month-alley old’s because it’s simply bizarre.
The stranger you behave, the closer your baby will observe you for emotional signs (a behavior known as social reference) in order to determine that you’re playing with him or her. By smiling and laughing at yourself, you communicate, “I’m having a great time,” and encourage your infant to love the absurd.
“Parents should communicate to their infants, ‘This is safe and enjoyable,'” Dr. Mireault comments. “Deadpan doesn’t work with babies.” Dr. Mireault thinks that clowning around is most effective when the performer embraces the amusement of ridiculously acting. So, go completely insane. This goofy smile will indicate to your child that you are attempting to entertain them.
As your infant’s brain matures, he or she will begin to recognize things that are distinctly outside of their normal field of experience. Typically, they will find these odd occurrences amusing.
How to proceed: Don a shoe as a hat.
Why your infant laughs: It’s silly. To comprehend this, your infant must execute some astonishing mental gymnastics. They must first recognize that shoes go on feet, not heads, a fact they’ve learned from observing others over the past few months.
In typical infant form, anything that is amusing once is also amusing five times in a row. “Parents overlook this because it is so basic,” says Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting. “If there is something that makes your infant giggle, repeat it.” “As adults, we tend to become bored, but for a newborn, everything is so novel that it may still be amusing twenty or thirty times.”
As infants grow older, they rely less on observing adults to determine what is amusing; they begin to make the determination on their own.
How to proceed: Make the cat meow.
Why it makes your baby laugh: For babies of this age, weird sounds are very amusing, as proven by a number of popular YouTube videos of babies laughing wildly as their father makes strange, high-pitched pinging noises or tears a piece of paper. If you require a pick-me-up, search YouTube for “laughing infant.” The reason why some words and noises are comedic gold is unknown to experts, but whatever works!
Around 15 months, you will observe a role reversal: Your infant will attempt to make you laugh!
What to do: Allow your little child to tickle you.
Why it makes your baby laugh: According to Vasu Reddy, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Portsmouth in England, “babies relish figuring out what people find hilarious.” “By the end of the first year, the majority of children are doing something humorous.”
You may have observed this about 7 or 8 months when your infant repeatedly made amusing faces that amused you. However, by 15 months, some infants are really beginning to work the room, and a tickle assault on you is a hilarious role reversal.
At 18 months, your child has largely figured out the world (or at least their section), so nothing is funnier than purposely making a mistake or pointing out when someone else does.
What to do: Intentionally commit an error.
Dr. Bergen notes that when toddlers make an intentional error, such as singing the wrong words to a familiar song, they demonstrate an awareness of cognitive incongruity, which causes them to chuckle. The joke is that they know what should happen, but it doesn’t, like when Mr. Noodle uses a banana as a trumpet on Sesame Street. With their developing language skills, your child may inform you that a cow says “baa” or that the dog’s name is Silly instead of Spot.